Benning Bomb: This odd-sounding creation incorporates Harp, Stoli vanilla, Kahlua and ginger ale. The drink is much lighter than expected, with the Kahlua and vanilla-flavored vodka coalescing into the milkshake-like middle, while the ginger ale adds fizz and spice.
Cap Hill North: The beverage that gave our unsuspecting drinking companion pause partners Magners with butterscotch-spiked corn whiskey. The combination is just shy of cloying; the cider actually dominates, producing a tart open followed by a vaguely caramel finish.
13th and H: The heaviest drink we downed features Guinness, Stoli vanilla and Dr. Brown’s cream soda. “It’s pretty sweet, but that’s one of my favorites,” a bartender warned as he set the tricolor beverage down on the bar. The drink is sugary, with the candy-like vodka and cream soda piggybacking on one another, while the Guinness fights to deliver some chocolatey notes.
According to Franco, locals love imbibing the 13th and H best.
“It’s like drinking a melted chocolate milkshake,” she said. (Though we thought the Benning Bomb did a better job of that.)
Meanwhile, she’s partial to the Long Island iced tea knockoff, Trinidad Tea. “Being from Georgia, you give me anything with peaches, and I’m a happy girl,” she gushed.
Franco is also putting her stamp on different hard liquors, creating batches of house-made hooch bearing significantly different flavors. During one visit, the bartender in charge made sure to point out sealed containers filled with fig-spiked Jameson, dill bourbon — “That’s really only good in, like, hot tea,” our bearded tour guide assessed — and the crowd-pleasing bacon bourbon.
“The only one that I make batch after batch is the bacon bourbon,” Franco said.
The piggy pour is intoxicating. The bacon-y flavor is subtle at first, providing traces of smoke and brown sugar on the nose. After swishing it around a bit, buttery notes danced across the palate, and a bit of porkiness developed in the back of the throat.
To wit, Franco said she likes to make customers’ heads spin by combining the signature bourbon with Magners.
“It’s like a salty caramel apple,” Franco pledged.
A request for said mashup only drew a blank stare from a befuddled barkeep who insisted, while other employees may indulge such orders, he was not privy to any such recipe. (Bummer.)
We made do with a proper European Snake Bite, uniting Harp and Magners — moderately sour; pleasantly pungent; all good — in perfect harmony.
Those looking to broaden their beer palate would be wise to give the Heebster (think tropical fruit, allspice and coffee, swirled into a foamy gulp) a try, while newcomers to the beer-based beverage market can ease into things with a bubbly refreshing Irish Shandy.
Meanwhile, staff said the menu is getting a facelift in just a few short weeks (the fried chicken livers have already been retired).
Here’s hoping Horswill et al. don’t dump all their signature fare. Because the only thing more fun than exploring new beer offerings is the diet-wrecking decision-making — gravy-covered roast-beef-and-bacon-stuffed Clogger, anyone? — that naturally goes along with it.